The former president of the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff's Association has been sentenced to five years in state prison for embezzling more than $300,000 over six years from the association.
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson announced the sentencing of Donald Philip Atkinson, a retired El Dorado County sheriff's sergeant. Atkinson pleaded no contest last month and was sentenced today in El Dorado Superior Court on three felony counts of embezzlement, elder fraud and perjury.
He was ordered by the court to pay more than $400,000 in restitution. While in state prison and on parole, Atkinson has agreed to pay $1,000 per month from his retirement fund to the victims.
Authorities said Atkinson opened bank accounts in his name and submitted forged documents to the Deputy Sheriff's Association to justify payments made to him and his companies. Much of the money was obtained through ATM withdrawals and checks payable to Atkinson, which made his actions difficult for auditors to trace, according to an Attorney General's Office news release.
The case was investigated by the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office with support from the Attorney General's Office. The investigation showed that Atkinson falsified Fair Political Practice Commission forms and submitted forged documents to the Deputy Sheriff's Association.
He also claimed checks were written for charitable purposes, but none of the named organizations and individuals received donations from Atkinson or the association, officials said. Among the charitable organizations was a donation fund for the families of four murdered Oakland police officers.
Several checks drawn from the Deputy Sheriff's Association's general fund were used to pay rent for an apartment occupied by a woman with whom Atkinson was in a relationship, authorities said.
Atkinson was also charged with theft from an elder or dependent adult. The victim loaned Atkinson $100,000 to purchase a photography business from a man with cancer. Authorities said Atkinson falsified information in the contract he signed, and bank records indicate that none of the victim's funds was spent for the purpose Atkinson had claimed.